FEATURE: Debra Murphy

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What does it mean to you to be a woman of colour and a vegan?

Growing up biracial in a predominantly white community, I already felt different. And that experience makes you stronger, less afraid to stand out for other reasons, because you already do. Becoming vegan made me feel different from the mainstream in another way, and a positive one, in choosing to live as ethically and compassionately as I can. It also highlighted some preconceptions about what a black or mixed race person is. This idea that "Veganism is a white thing," and that it's elitist or exclusive. To me, it never felt that way. And with heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems being so prevalent in the black community, I was looking for a diet and lifestyle that would improve my day to day quality of life, and have longer-term health benefits as well. To me, veganism is about choosing an ethical and environmentally sustainable way of living, and about providing good quality plant-based foods and good nutrition for everyone on this planet we share. It's accessible to everyone. It doesn't have to be expensive - you just need to learn to cook.

The Jamaican tradition of Ital cooking that comes to me from my mother's side is a brilliant example of this in practice: it's founded on great food with bold flavors, not expensive ingredients. She used a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans, all cooked from scratch. Growing up, I also had friends from different cultures who exposed me to the rich diversity of vegetarian cuisine - south Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern. So I already had a head start. And, I might have the world's largest collection of vegan cookbooks - it's a bit of an obsession.

How did people react to your decision to live a vegan life?

I was confident and resolute in own my choice, so people's reactions didn't really affect me very much. Holiday meals and traditional foods were a challenge sometimes. People often have strong emotional ties to the foods they eat, and some people have a defensive reaction, as though my choices reflect badly on them. Others are more curious. If they're curious, I usually take the opportunity share my experiences and the things I've learned over almost a decade as a vegan. I always try to lead with kindness, without judging or preaching. Above all, I try to lead by example, and support people who want to find out more.  

When did you first hear about veganism?

Both sides of family had ill health from their 40’s onwards, so I started to do my own research into a healthier diet. I read a lot - The China Study by T. Colin Campbell made a strong impression on me. Ethical reasons came later, as I learned more about the violence our food system does to animals and people, watching films like Forks Over Knives, or Earthlings. Then I was inspired by the likes of Breeze Harper, Angela Davis, Raj Patel, and Bryant Terry, who got me fired up about the links between social justice and food justice. As a student in the US, I became aware of food deserts in black communities, that access to good quality food is shaped by factors like race and economic status. I decided I couldn't be vegan without being concerned about the politics of the wider food system: the conditions of migrant workers, or the environmental racism evident in industrial-scale hog farming, for example. It's about more than just the food we choose to eat - it's about how it is produced, and whether it's sustainable.

What advice do you have for others considering a switch to a vegan diet?

Do your research on nutritional needs, and make sure your choices are covering everything your body needs to thrive. Find out more about the impact of factory farming on the lives of people of color and our environment. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people. And learn to cook!

How has your veganism influenced your career path?

I knew I wanted my career to align with my personal values, so I got a job in the natural health sector, and I’ve never looked back. Before long, I dreamed of having a brand of my own. But my real passion is vegan advocacy. And now the two have finally come together with the launch of Bumble Bloom, our plant-based honey alternative. My partner James and I have worked really hard to create a brand that’s focused on positive, ethical, and sustainable choices. We’re very excited to see it grow! The future is vegan!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Instagram: @bumblebloom

FEATURE: Royce Ashcroft and Imari Spigner

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Royce Ashcroft and Imari Spigner are an active vegan couple located in Florida. Royce has been vegan since January 2016, and Imari has been vegan since April 2017. The couple met each other at an open mic show that Royce was the host of in April 2017 and it has been love ever since. The original purpose for Mr. Ashcroft to transition to a vegan lifestyle was to purify and decalcify his pineal gland for spiritual clarity and easier access to lucid dreaming and astral projection. As he continued along his journey, he learned about all the amazing health benefits, environmental benefits, animal slaughter houses, and all the tasty foods that being vegan has to offer. He shared this with his new girlfriend and she transitioned and has no plans on ever going back.

Together they have started Noor 17, which is a VEGAN modeling & talent network. Noor 17 hosts a wide range of events such as social mixers, fashion shows, public speaking workshops, and the list goes on and on. Currently, the network is gearing up for their first major network event week, Vegan Awareness Week, which will take place November 10th – November 17th. The vegan awareness week will launch with “The Great Vegan Debate” which will be a parliamentary-style debate with an audience of 200 as 4 panelists of vegans and 4 omnivores debate about living a plant-based and organic lifestyle.

Each day of the week will feature its own activities such as Veg5k, The Vegan Battle of the Bands, and the Grand Finale of the week, The 2018 Florida Vegan Awards & Model Extravaganza. The Awards show will be held at the omni-prestigious Bob Carr Theatre in the Doctor Phillips Center in the heart of Downtown Orlando. The 2,400-seat auditorium will be filled with large trophies given away to top vegan models, athletes, businesses, restaurants, you name it! The awards show will be hosted by America’s Got Talent semi-finalists and Orlando career native, Preacher Lawson! Many A-list celebrities who are vegan are on the invite list whose names will be released closer to the show date. Noor 17 is always looking for more plant-based friends to help with the cause so if you’re interested in getting involved, please like and find Noor 17 on Facebook in the links provided below.

Social Media

FACEBOOK:
Noor 17 page: http://facebook.com/noor17vegan
The Vegan Gala: https://www.facebook.com/events/215077995704948     The Great Vegan Debate: https://www.facebook.com/events/2116150941942179/
The Veg5k: https://www.facebook.com/events/481660182228001/    
The 2018 Florida Vegan Awards & Model Extravaganza: https://www.facebook.com/events/170945230129887/

FEATURE: Brian Mays

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Brian Mays has been vegan for over six months and he has a vegan, fluoride-free toothpaste called Smile Natural Toothpaste. He uses the sales to give back to children's education.

He was inspired by the Black Panthers' free breakfast program for children that was funded by the sales of their newspaper. Brian Mays recently went vegan about 6 months after learning about the disparities in healthy food options in the black community compared to other groups. This coupled with a recent diagnosis of diabetes with his father (who was a big meat eater) was enough to convince him to switch to a plant based diet. 

To connect with Brian personally, follow @smile_brianmays. To support his mission check out @smilenaturaltoothpaste or feelsgoodtosmile.com.

His work has also been covered on ESPN's The Undefeated website

 

FEATURE: Edric

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Edric's friend Pam (pictured below) reached out to us and asked us to share his story with our Black Vegans Rock audience.

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She writes, "Ed and I both work for the London Fire Brigade as operational fire fighters. Ed hasn’t had the easiest time recently and I’d like to do something for him that will make him smile. Last June Ed attended the Grenfell Fire in West London and was very affected by it." 

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Edric became a vegan about 18 months ago and it has changed his life. He is writing a book partly because he’s so enthusiastic about being a vegan and because muscles do not equate to meat. His book is about his personal journey and how being a vegan has helped him.

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Ed lost his mother to a bowel related cancer when he was younger (about 21) and then lost his best friend to cancer during the same period of his life.  He has also lost other family members to the same. He decided he wanted to live a healthier life and started looking at ways to be healthier. Then he saw a documentary called 'Earthlings' and became a vegan over night and has not looked back. 

He discusses the impact that meat farming and the transport of meat around the globe has on the planet.  He also has serious concerns about animal welfare around farming.

 He also wants to encourage more men to become vegans, especially men like his old gym buddies. He wants to show them that being a vegan doesn't mean you have to stop training to gain muscle. 

Follow Edric on Social Media

Instagram: @EdTheVegan

FEATURE: Simohamed

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My name is Simohamed and i m a student of neuropsychology in the scientific capital of Fez, Morocco. I'm also an activist in the fields of human rights as well as animal rights, and passioned by arts and cultures.
It has been more than five years since I first adopted this diet that I tried, step by step, to take as a lifestyle. The modifications and changes were not that cruel, My transition was smooth,which was not the case for my family and surroundings. 

Fez is known worldwide as the capital of the intersections of culture and religion, but it is also known thanks to "Dar Debbagh" the biggest place where leather is made in a traditional way. This is specifically what many of my vegan friends from abroad find savage, yet they have to know that vegan products such as handbags are also made there, using dry palm trees' petals.

Morocco is a country of tourism and there are many sights to discover, yet we are still living in a society where the majority is conservative. They do not accept this culture and make fun of it. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the most famous Moroccan food contains meat. Yet, this does not mean that there isn't a vast majority of youth willing to accept differences.

The biggest challenge I had to face was to convince my environment to accept this fact, and regardless of their mockery, It didn't affect me that much, as long as it was first of all a personal choice and second, I was convinced of my choices, ideas, and principles.

The most important challenge I had was the fact that in Morocco, vegan restaurants are rare, yet this doesn't stop me from moving ahead and always forward. So, I just take a salad or I go back home.

The starting point would be the day I decided to launch activism-veganism in Morocco, and I started making videos on Youtube about veganism ( L'VEGANISM ). It is the the first Moroccan website that explains veganism in a way to be understood by everyone and it's in Moroccan dialect, and translated in French and English. The purpose is to share this culture without stereotypes and create a debate about the subject

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The goal of this project is to correct and explain some misunderstandings. I started with a first video giving a definition of veganism and focusing more on ideas they might accept and tolerate.

I will continue with a second video about the history of veganism and in the third I'll talk about the types of veganism.

It goes without saying that I am one of the admins of "Arabian Vegan-النباتيون العرب", a facebook page with more than 18,000 followers of vegan content and subjects from the Middle East and North Africa.

My friend "Imad Benoumar" has a hand in all of this, since he is the one responsible for everything to do with the camera. The series "Veganism" has had a lot of influence, especially with the local media. They have started asking me for interviews to understand what veganism is.

This was not the fruit of my efforts alone. I had a lot of encouragement and help from many animal rights activists, especially in the UK and USA.

At the present moment, my friend "Sarah Bhr " and I are preparing for a meeting in the capitol in order to talk about veganism and present our ideas to the public. We want to create a vegan association in the future.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simohamed.bouhakkaoui

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simohamedbouhakaoui/

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjqt8hm1jxDwOtPQOQQrqTA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Bouhakkaoui 

FEATURE: Arien Smith

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I have been vegan for about nine months now and these have been some of the best months of my life. I tried going vegan several times because my girlfriend has been vegan for three years and I told myself I wanted to try her “diet.” Every time I tried I failed and blamed it on my need for meat.

Being originally from North Carolina and playing football my whole life only gave me one perspective when it came to food. Back during my playing days as center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2011 to 2015, I was 290 pounds. Most meals I consumed were focused heavily in the areas of meat and potatoes. So nine months ago, I finally decided to go vegan for myself. I cut off all animal products completely and I was amazed by how easy it was and how much energy it gave me on a daily basis.

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Becoming vegan was a big achievement for me, not only because of my former lifestyle, but because my father passed when I was two years old from colon cancer. Family and friends always told me of his love for big cookouts with all types of meats. In my previous lifestyle I was unknowingly falling in his footsteps. I hope that in my vegan journey I can influence more in the black community to care about what they consume. Theres so much we can’t control in this world so why not take full advantage of the things we can.

Social Media

Instagram: @air_smith74

FEATURE: Lorraine Palmer

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1. When did you decide to go vegan and why?

My name is Lorraine Palmer, I am a raw food expert, vegan chef, coach, mentor and author. I support people who want to transition to eating more plant based foods whether cooked or RAW, via workshops, talks, demonstrations, in groups or my ‘RAWdom!’ course for those who prefer 1 to 1 support. 

My vegan journey started about 5 years ago when I consistently experienced that life without meat or animal products was better for my health and the planet. Prior to going vegan many years ago I had periods of eating meat, then no meat, being vegetarian, then only eating raw plant based foods, then meat, then no meat etc. - it was not a seamless transition. 

I represent a lot of people who have had a chequered journey in making the definitive soul connection that eating animals is not great for many reasons. I remember visiting a place called Arbor Low a few years ago. It is a prehistoric monument and likened to ‘Stonehenge’ due to its stone circle. Whilst looking around, as you do, I came across some lambs (I was not vegan at that time). I was thinking how cute they looked, their little stubby tails waved so quickly, ‘arrr they are so cute, they deserve to live a full life and not have it cut short just so I get to eat their flesh’. A few months passed and guess what? Yes, I went out for dinner and ordered the lamb. Needless to say I had mixed feelings - guilt, shame, enjoyment and satisfaction, not necessarily in that order. Some time later it became apparent that I was being supported by the universe to change my habits for the better, finally committing to being fully compassionate towards all living beings.

2. How did your friends and family react when you decided to go vegan?

My friends and family who I am in close contact with were very happy that I was adopting this lifestyle - some have since joined me whereas others look on in admiration because they feel they could not stop eating meat, let alone cheese. Little do they know; adopting a vegan lifestyle will open up a world of foods they would not normally entertain including RAW plant based foods. Some family and friends that I connect with on social media who are still meat eaters openly support what I am doing - spreading the word about only eating plants. I feel they will go vegan one day!

3. What advice do you have for other folks who think veganism is 'too extreme’?

I say to them that they are entitled to their opinion, but I see it as  being kind to ones body, animals and the planet. Fellow sentient beings are not being killed for my use or pleasure. If a discussion appears out of this topic I sometimes ask whether they see this as extreme…..‘loving and caring for animals like dogs and cats but finding it easy to eat a piece of steak’ which also comes from an animal. I find that extreme …going from cuddling an animal to chewing another without a second thought. 

4. Is there anything else you want our audience to know about you and the book you've written?

Being vegan is not about me wanting to live longer, it is about living the healthiest life and not being a burden on the health system or reliant on the death of another for my life to thrive. 

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‘Raw Food in A Flash is part self-care guide and raw food recipe book for the menopausal woman (any woman really, as we will all go through this transition). Eating RAW foods helped me through my transition by curbing my menopause symptoms - this book is the perfect guide for those who want a more natural way of supporting their bodies.  

I advocate eating ‘more RAW’ plant-based food because of the dense nutrients and available enzymes. You do not have to eat 100% RAW foods to benefit from it - ‘more RAW is better than no RAW’. 

You can access me on social media

Twitter - https://twitter.com/veganrawcooked

Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.co.uk/veganrawcooked/

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/veganrawcooked/

LinkedIn - https://www.bit.ly/2zwW93l 

Facebook - (I go live!) - https://m.facebook.com/veganrawcooked/

Buy my book here -  https://www.lorrainepalmer.com/raw-food-flash/

Contact me here lorraine@lorrainepalmer.com

 

FEATURE: DanDann

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BVR: When and why did you go vegan?

Let’s see. My journey began in December 2006 but I wasn’t 100% vegan until 2012. I grew up in a Jamaican household with two parents well-gifted in the culinary arts. Curry, Jerk, Escovich, ...the yard. Comparatively, veggies seemed to be almost an afterthought, because kids should eat veggies. Which is to say, it wasn’t until I lived with vegan and vegetarian college roommates that I realized vegetables could actually taste good.

December of ’06 (in Jamaica actually) marked my first attempt to go raw vegan. Unfortunately, I did not yet understand what I was getting into, or how to do it, so I began my volley back and forth between raw vegan, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. Eventually I discovered Dr. Douglas Graham and 80/10/10 raw foodism through which I finally began to understand the dynamics of food and the human body. By 2012 I managed to wean myself off of fish and dairy for the final time.

For me, veganism was completely about the human body, the prospect of living more healthfully, and helping the friends and family around me heal from various ailments. Despite loving animals, their plight did not register with me until a fter I became plant-based. It was a good feeling, once I discovered what they were going through, to realize that my life choices already aligned with my desire to end the violence. Conservation, human and animal rights, world hunger....I may have come to veganism for health, but I hold a lot of pride in being able to say that my lifestyle also supports the earth and ALL the being who share it.

BVR: Where did you first hear about veganism?

I was first exposed to vegetarianism from a childhood friend, but my attempt to follow suite was mocked by my well-meaning family. It wasn’t until college that veganism really appeared again. I moved into in a student-housing co-op and of the 10 housemates, there was one vegan and one vegetarian. As such, whenever anyone would cook, they would automatically make the food vegan, just in case the plant-eaters wanted to share in the meal or the leftovers. The food was always amazing and the experience completely shifted my outlook on eating plants.

BVR: How did your friends and family react when you went vegan?

When I first tried to go veg as a kid I was laughed out of town (or my house... whatever...). Having now met other people who went veg as kids, I realize I could have succeeded had I pulled a hunger strike or some other show of determination, but back then I didn’t have the constitution to stand firm in the face of heavy criticism or my mother’s cooking. It took a little while for my family to understand, accept or even remember my dietary shift as an adult. Lately, though, I notice them (all of them, extended family included) quietly adopting my habits, or even proudly announcing just how many bananas they had for lunch on a given day.

My friends didn’t really react in any sort of memorable way. But then, I traveled and moved so much that old friends couldn’t have known, and new friends tended to share my interests. The funny thing is, however, every time I check in with old friends via social media, another one here or there is talking about how they ‘randomly’ decided to go vegan.

BVR: What advice do you have for others who are thinking about going vegan but think it’s too extreme or that it’s a ‘white person thing’?

It is so much easier and less expensive than you think. As awareness and science spread, availability is getting easier. As far as ‘fomo’ goes, food is all about flavor and texture. Fast food restaurants have been proving for years that what you’re eating doesn’t actually have to be what you think it is so long as it has the expected flavor and texture. There are enough varieties of mushrooms alone to cover the gamut. Jerked mushrooms, curried mushrooms, escovich mushrooms.... You don’t have to eat tofu, ever, if you don’t want to. Make friends with Japanese purple yams, oyster mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower, and all of the other delicious friends out there.

As for being a white person thing... Consider that certain people and groups have been convinced that their pride and national cuisines are not the bright, colorful, delicious fruits and vegetables that grow in their yards, but rather the cheapest things to feed slaves, the waste from ‘more important people’s’ meals (innards, feet, grease and garbage), and substances guaranteed to create life-long medical customers. Why are we giving away that kind of power? The foods that God and the planet gave us as our natural gift, foods that keep us healthy, whole, intelligent and autonomous, are ours by right. Don’t let ANYone, whether of a different heritage or your own , convince you that God saw fit to nurture someone else but not you. Veganism is a person thing, no prefix. We all deserve to be full of fruit and life. Don’t give away your birthright.

BVR: We know that you are an artist. Do you do custom orders as well?

Yes, I do custom orders on occasion, depending on where I am traveling at a given time. 

Some of the things I have available include:
- Fruit and Veggie Earrings, Necklaces and Belly Rings (acrylic and/or wood)
- Fruit and Veggie Themed Movie Misquotes
- Heartbeet Kneeling Meditation Stools
- Mystery Boxes with Exotic Local Gifts From Around the World (Currently Thailand), Including Vegan Snacks and Recipes
- A series of Melanin Plaques - currently, I'm featuring some of my favorite Jazz musicians

I have started live streaming both my music as well as live international craft market excursions. It's a bit like having a virtual personal shopper, as I take viewers through the Night Markets of Chiang Mai or wherever else I visit. Anything viewers point out, I purchase and ship to them.

BVR: We heard you are working on a new project that with deals with diversity. Could you give us some more details about it

I am aiming for a full immersive experience to:

• Present diverse cultures around the world through videos introducing local artists, dancers, musicians, chefs and other makers (think Ghanaian Dancers, Native American sculptors or Norwegian musicians, telling us about the stories within their art and teaching us about their culture, beliefs, everyday lives, etc)

• Present challenges, encouraging viewers to exercise their own arts (for example, ‘choreograph your own dance, create your own sculpture, or write your own piece of music with the story you want to tell and share the video with us - maybe you’ll win something from the array of available prizes, or maybe you’ll win a trip to hang out with me somewhere around the world)

• Offer Terra Trunks, or mystery box filled with textures, tastes, scents, sounds and sights from the local region so viewers can share in the global experiences with all 5 senses.

My desire is to inspire people to create, to collaborate, to be curious about life and one another, to share, to experience, to share experiences.... Additionally, we don’t currently see enough shades of melanin in the media. There are very few presented artists, musicians or dancers outside of hip-hop let alone travelers, writers, chefs, polyglots, entrepreneurs, etc. My project will highlight creatives from all walks and backgrounds, and as a female multipotentialite entrepreneurial traveler of color, I will naturally lean toward presenting as many strong, inspiring people of color as I can find. My aim is to provide a platform for creators who convert the light and darkness, joy and pain, delight and horror into incredible works of art and inspiration. 

Web Links and Social Meda

Website: Vegimundo.com (with DanDannDesigns.com)

Facebook: Facebook.com/TerraTrunks 

Instagram: Instagram.com/heydandann